Depression Medications Are in the Hands of the Beholder

An open prescription bottle with pills spilling out

Depression is caused by a variety of factors. It can by biological, genetic, physical and emotional. Simple daily life and surroundings are important. stress and other negative influences have been known to contribute. Complicated diseases like depression aren’t easy to crack. We also recognize the intricacy of man’s mind.

The medical profession is working steadily in an attempt to study the mind and how it works. A chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression, that’s known. We are learning more every day about how the whole process works. Better treatments come from more knowledge. Depression treatment comes from a variety of medications on the market. Quick fix schemes exist too, but they don’t work. You have to be careful to seek medications that have been clinically studied and have been proven to display positive effects in the treatment of depression.

There was a time in our history if you were afflicted by anything that was associated with mental illness you were thrown into a mental ward and lost in the system. It’s good to know that’s no longer the case. In 1988 the anti-depressant ‘Prozac’ first hit the market in the United States. It was proven to work, and thus is still prescribed today even though it can have serious side effects. There are several types of depression medications (antidepressants) used to treat depression and conditions that have depression as a component of the disease, such as bipolar disorder. These drugs improve symptoms of depression by increasing the availability of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is believed that these brain chemicals can help improve emotions.

Major types of antidepressants include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are some of the first antidepressants used to treat depression. They primarily affect the levels of two chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), norepinephrine and serotonin, in the brain. Although these drugs are effective in treating depression, they have more side effects, so they usually aren’t the first drugs used.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are another early form of antidepressant. These drugs are most effective in people with depression who do not respond to other treatments. They are also effective for other mental illnesses. Substances in certain foods, like cheese, beverages like wine, and medications can interact with an MAOI, so these people taking this medication must adhere to strict dietary restrictions (see below). For this reason these antidepressants also aren’t usually the first drugs used.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a newer form of antidepressant. These drugs work by altering the amount of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another newer form of antidepressant medicine. They treat depression by increasing availability of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. Medications affect your brain chemistry in different ways, so you may try several different medications or combinations of medications to find treatment that works for your depression. Most people find a drug that works within a few tries, but for some people, depression can be more difficult to treat. In some cases, a combination of antidepressants may be necessary. Sometimes an antidepressant combined with a different type of medication-such as an antiseizure, mood stabilizer, or antianxiety drug-is effective.

Since that time more and more use has been made of a new class of anti-depressants. The SSRI or (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, and Luvox are all being used to treat depression today. All have been proven effective but come with varied side effects. Most antidepressants are believed to work by slowing the removal of certain chemicals from the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are needed for normal brain function. Antidepressants help people with depression by making these natural chemicals more available to the brain. Antidepressants are typically taken for at least 4 to 6 months. In some cases, patients and their doctors may decide that antidepressants are needed for a longer time. Antidepressants are put into groups based on which chemicals in the brain they affect.

There are many different kinds of antidepressants, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • citalopram (brand name: Celexa)
    • escitalopram (brand name: Lexapro)
    • fluoxetine (brand name: Prozac)
    • paroxetine (brand names: Paxil, Pexeva)
    • sertraline (brand name: Zoloft)
      These medicines tend to have fewer side effects than other antidepressants. Some of the side effects that can be caused by SSRIs include dry mouth, nausea, nervousness, insomnia, sexual problems and headache.
  • Tricyclics
    • amitriptyline (brand name: Elavil)
    • desipramine (brand name: Norpramin)
    • imipramine (brand name: Tofranil)
    • nortriptyline (brand name: Aventyl, Pamelor)
      Common side effects caused by these medicines include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, difficulty urinating, worsening of glaucoma, impaired thinking and tiredness. These antidepressants can also affect a person’s blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
    • venlafaxine (brand name: Effexor)
    • duloxetine (brand name: Cymbalta)
      Some common side effects caused by these medicines include nausea and loss of appetite, anxiety and nervousness, headache, insomnia and tiredness. Dry mouth, constipation, weight loss, sexual problems, increased heart rate and increased cholesterol levels can also occur.
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
      • bupropion (brand name: Wellbutrin)

    Some of the common side effects in people taking NDRIs include agitation, nausea, headache, loss of appetite and insomnia. It can also cause increase blood pressure in some people.

  • Combined reuptake inhibitors and receptor blockers
    • trazodone (brand name: Desyrel)
    • nefazodone (brand name: Serzone)
    • maprotiline
    • mirtazpine (brand name: Remeron)
      Common side effects of these medicines are drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea and dizziness. If you have liver problems, you should not take nefazodone. If you have seizures, you should not take maprotiline.
  • Monamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • isocarboxazid (brand name: Marplan)
    • phenelzine (brand name: Nardil)
    • tranlcypromine (brand name: Parnate)
      MAOIs are used less commonly than the other antidepressants. They can have serious side effects, including weakness, dizziness, headaches and trembling. Taking an MAOI antidepressant while you’re taking another antidepressant or certain over-the-counter medicines for colds and flu can cause a dangerous reaction. Your doctor will also tell you what foods and alcoholic beverages you should avoid while you are taking an MAOI. You should not take an MAOI unless you clearly understand what medications and foods to avoid. If you are taking an MAOI and your doctor wants you to start taking one of the other antidepressants, he or she will have you stop taking the MAOI for a while before you start the new medicine. This gives the MAOI time to clear out of your body.

The market is also ripe with herbal medications and treatments. The majority of these that have been proven to work as well as the anti-depressants contain the St. John’s Wort extract ingredient called ‘hyperforin’. Some herbal remedies don’t contain this ingredient in the proper strength so they don’t work. Be careful, do your research and you will find effective medications to treat depression.

In this context it has to be said that the common misconception that herbs for depression are natural and thus do not have any side effects is outright wrong and the depressive patient should be aware of the potential risks of taking herbs for depression without consulting a medical professional.

Conclusion: Although the use of herbs for depression is widely spread, on the whole there is (maybe with the exception of St. John’s wort) no definitive evidence for the usefulness of herbal treatments for depression. Especially when compared to standard prescription drugs for depression herbs for depression usually cannot prevail as a first choice treatment option. However, when other more established treatments fail, in cases of mild depression, using herbs for depression may be worth a try. In any case the user should realise the limitations and not underestimate the risks of using herbs for depression. While antidepressant drugs such as Prozac increase serotonin levels in the brain, this doesn’t mean that depression is caused by a serotonin shortage. After all, aspirin may cure a headache, but it doesn’t mean that headaches are caused by an aspirin deficiency.

Furthermore, many studies contradict the chemical imbalance theory of depression. Experiments have shown that lowering people’s serotonin levels doesn’t always lower mood, nor does it worsen symptoms in people who are already depressed. And while antidepressants raise serotonin levels within hours, it takes weeks before medication kicks in to relieve depression. If depression were due to low serotonin, there wouldn’t be an antidepressant medication lag. Studies agree that both antidepressants and psychotherapy are effective treatments for depression. There is even agreement that a combination of the two may be more effective than either alone. It may well be that one treatment is likely to be more effective than the other for a particular person. The art and science of mental health are not yet refined enough to be able to predict which treatment will be more effective for a given person.

We have compiled and consolidated the latest information on depression (including anxiety, adhd) signs and symptom of depression, depression causes, diagnosis, and depression treatment and cure for teen, adult and child. We have also gathered important information on coping with the personal and social effects of a depression, which can become difficult without the proper knowledge.

Depression-guide has information on anxiety depression related disorders and medicine library, depression self help, depression support and health care professional, etc. It is possible that an individual’s episode of depression may be caused entirely by a major stressful situation or event. For others, stressors may ‘set off’ or trigger an episode that was ‘waiting to happen’. Alternatively, a depressive episode may be completely unrelated to a stressful event. It is therefore not surprising that, in many written accounts of depression, the role of stressful events as a trigger is difficult to determine. Often, the explanations provided by therapists are just as speculative. Herbs for depression are often seen as a viable alternative to pharmaceutical treatment of depression. However, actual data showing an effectiveness of herbs for depression is rare and thus it is currently hardly possible to make a final verdict on the usefulness of herbal treatment for depression in general. Also, there seems to be only limited interest from western medicine to study the effects of herbs for depression in a clinically relevant setting. So from a patient’s perspective the question remains: What is the evidence that herbal treatment for depression works? By far the best studied herbal treatment for depression is without doubt St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is the most well-known and best studied of the herbs for depression in use.

It has been known as herbal treatment for depression and cure for other diseases for many centuries. In Europe, where this herbal treatment for depression is commonly prescribed by medical professionals, various clinical studies have demonstrated a positive effect of this best known member of the herbs for depression in use in cases of mild to moderate depression. However, two clinical studies in the US, one of them funded by a pharmaceutical company, have recently indicated that St. John’s wort extracts were no more effective than a placebo in major depression. In America, herbal products and dietary supplements amount to a billion-dollar business. Most supermarkets have sections that resemble a natural pharmacy. They are stocked with row after row of popular herbal therapies, vitamins, minerals, natural enzymes, organ tissues, metabolites, extracts, or concentrates, and more. Some see this “back to nature” trend as part of an increasing demand from people who want to take charge of their own health and healing. And to do that, many of them want to use complementary and alternative medicine — CAM — therapies.

What is St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s wort is a wild yellow flower considered to be a weed throughout most of the United States. It has been used for medical purposes in other parts of the world for thousands of years. Today, St. John’s wort is continually being studied to try to validate its alleged mood-improving benefits. More than 30 clinical studies have been conducted over the past 22 years to evaluate the effectiveness of St. John’s wort. While the true benefits of St. John’s wort are still being explored, if you do choose to use it, be sure to learn all you can and check with your doctor before taking it. There is some scientific evidence that St. John’s wort is helpful in treating mild to moderate depression. However, two large studies, one sponsored by the National Center for

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), showed that the herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity. NCCAM is currently studying the use of St. John’s wort in a wider spectrum of mood disorders, including minor depression. If used appropriately, CAM might boost your sense of control over your health, and that can be essential for wellness. Proponents of complementary and alternative treatments claim that these nondrug interventions could allow you to take less medication, have fewer laboratory tests and surgeries, and be an active participant in your own care. However, if used haphazardly, some complementary and alternative medicines are toxic, and some can interact with other medications you are taking.

As some have learned the hard way, taking the wrong dietary supplement and having an adverse reaction can add to your laundry list of health problems.Further studies with this herbal treatment for depression are currently conducted, but it may take years before a final verdict can be made on St. John’s wort. The exact mode of action of this herbal treatment for depression is not fully understood, although there is some evidence that it acts on serotonin production or -activity. Despite open questions and demonstrated limitations, St. John’s wort currently stands as the only one of the herbs for depression with a clinically demonstrated positive effect at least in mild cases of depression.

RockinJay gathers information for a variety of helpful sites.
Learn more about depression and how you can help yourself @ RelieveDepressionToday.com

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